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Wadud's Way

By Sh. G. F. Haddad

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Countless generations of Muslim women played an integral role in transmitting the religion of Islam from the Prophet Muhammad, upon him and them blessings and peace and his successors including its texts and practice from the earliest centuries down to our time. But in her "first Friday sermon by a woman" according to the Guardian article dated Saturday 19 March Dr. Amina Wadud is quoted as saying, "Women were not allowed to (have) input in the basic paradigms of what it means to be a Muslim."

One of the examples of Wadud's "input in the basic paradigm" is her reference to our Creator as "He," "She," "It." The article went on, "Particularly controversial was Wadud's periodic substitution of the Arabic word for God, Allah, with the pronouns, he, she and it, arguing that God's omnipresence defied gender definition." In her slightly outmoded ilhad of the Divine Name it appears Dr. Wadud follows the lead of the self-named Pir Wilayat Khan and his syncretist, perennialist "Sufi Order of the West." More relevantly she is reviving its scandalousness by trying to inject it into the mainstream and disturb not just a happy few but as many as possible.

The sociologist of American Islam Dr. Yvonne Haddad is quoted in the same article as saying, " People in America think they are going to be the vanguards of change, but for Arab Muslims in the Middle East, American Muslims continue to be viewed on the margins of the faith.'' She seems to think that American Muslims are viewed more favorably by non-Arab Muslims than by Arabs.

In an interview titled "Dr. Amina Wadud leads the Ummah in a Historical prayer" at naseeb.com , x L 20120703 , as of 19 March 2005 she is quoted as saying:

1. "The end conclusion was that the principle of Ijtehad will be used to discontinue slavery even when the Quran did not advocate for its immediate end."

While it is true the Qur'an did not command the immediate end of slavery it certainly advocated for its immediate end by equating the freeing of slaves with salvation and worship in many verses.

2. "The Quran worked to eradicate the previously negative practices toward women, and moved forward to justice. We must realize that this was done 14 centuries ago. At that time, it was not even possible to imagine women with spiritual equality."

Rather, it was possible 14 centuries ago to see women with spiritual superiority, let alone imagine women of spiritual equality, as stated by the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, in his glowing references to his first wife Khadija, his youngest wife Aisha, his daughter Fatima, various women of the Muhajirun and Ansar, and the women of former times such as Asia the wife of Pharaoh, the most truthful Virgin Mary, and others.

3. "We are members of our current History. We make History, we imagine our future."

The belief that "we make History" is the core of qadarism [absolute free will] which Dr. Wadud here expresses more explicitly while it remains implicit in most of her statements about history, empowerment, and change. The belief in qadar which the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace taught is that it is Allah that makes history and that its end has already been written while we remain (contrary to the heresy of fatalism and determinism) responsible for our actions.

4. " Leading salat (prayer) is representative of the devotion to ritual as well as the capability of participation for women."

Leading salat is an integral aspect [hay'a] of a Divinely-ordained pillar of worship. The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, described this pillar as the central tent-pole of the Religion, announced it will be the first item of reckoning in the last Judgment, and warned us in his very last breath not to jeopardize it.

5. "Within the framework of intellectual development, common sense is always considered inferior and insufficient to hadith or fiqh."

Intelligence is the soul of hadith and fiqh and they are, of all the human discourses we know, its greatest proponents. As the Prophet said, upon him blessings and peace, For whomever Allah desires immense good He grants them superlative understanding of the Religion.

6. "The final analysis is that each human is responsible for being a Khilafa who must act like an agent responsible to obey Allah, according to their best understanding of interpretations from experts as well as for discussing alternatives brought about by real life experience."

The above reads like a "no leader, just me and myself" cultural revolution casting off the shackles of {ask the people of the remembrance}, {and above every learned one there is one more learned}, {and [obey] those in authority among you} and {hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not separate} as so many male constraints, and substituting instead the idols of subjectivism and empiricism. Each human is responsible for his or her own actions and is duty-bound to follow the Divine dispensation regardless whether they understand its expert interpretations or have discussed so-called alternatives on empirical bases. Khilafa is not a fluid honorific that gets to be used as a pretext to dissolve a Muslim's categorical obligations into meaningless relativism.

7. "The second caliph of Islam, Hazrat Omar did not collect the booty as referenced in the Quran. This booty taking was a common practice at the time when the the Quran was taken more literally."

Our liege-lords Abu Bakr, Omar, ʿUthman, and ʿAli all collected the booty and distributed it in the same way to both the letter and the spirit of the Qur'an. That there were some discontents in no way questions their understanding of the Qur'an as any less literal than in the time of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. There is no difference in the basic qur'anic distribution of the spoils of war among the 4 rightly-guided caliphs and the 4 imams from the time of Abu Bakr to that of ʿAli, Allah be well-pleased with them.

8. "The interpretation that I should shut up and sit down was not the method that I would use to live Islam. I cannot be an agent or a khilafa unless I am honest about what is in my heart."

The woman who stood and corrected her khalifa (our liege-lord Omar) in the midst of his Jumuʿa sermon clearly did not "shut up and sit down" but she was speaking from both knowledge and a sense of justice, not justice alone uninformed by knowledge, hence he vindicated her; moreover she remained all the while within the Qur'anic confines of {We hear and we obey}. She practiced nasiha with the greater courage: within the system, not by trying to stab the system in the back with intimations of subversion and distrust from some hiding-place. That woman won here and hereafter and she would have taken to her heels at the mere idea of her being her own khalifa.

9. "VIBES: Is it true that pre-Islamic women were braver and more out-going than those in the post-Islam era? "Dr. Amina Wadud: No, I don?t aspire to this view. Take the Prophet?s wife, Khadija. She was unable to manage her own business without a male representative."

How so? That our Mother Khadija relied on male employees does not automatically show she did not manage her own business without a male representative.

10. "The fact is that a mixed congregational prayer is in no way a precedence of sorts, but simply a public announcement that should lead to positive feelings. I realize that this single act won?t transform the community, but is symbolic of the possibilities within Islam."

At no time in its history has the Umma been uplifted by symbols of the possibilities of chaos that are always an option to human beings and human societies. Rather, the Umma has always been uplifted by what is symbolic of the ideal within Islam.

The Dhikr Allah Most High guarantees to protect includes the truthful meaning, not just the letter of the qur'an. The tahrif or tampering the Qur'an castigates denotes the meaning of the Torah before its letter. The importation of this tahrif into Islam is being promoted before our eyes as we speak. The first step to that tahrif is to divorce the qur'an from its hermeneutics, the sunna. The final stage is that she "did not agree with the Qur'an" itself as Dr. Wadud is quoted as saying by Nazim Baksh in a recent Q-News article titled: "Waking up to Progressive Muslims."

"Every novelty is attractive." (proverb)

GF Haddad



Related texts
link-inWaking up to Progressive Muslims.


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *